I finally found a tandem! And I bought that tandem! I have been looking on Craigslist and elsewhere for the perfect starter tandem. I have no guarantee that my wife will be for realz down with riding, and my son is still at least one growth spurt away from being stoker sized, so I couldn’t possible spend multiple hundreds of dollars on a bike that I’m unlikely to ride by myself. But I also didn’t want to get something too cumbersome or too crappy since that wouldn’t really create the kind of tandem experience I seek. So I contacted a few people and asked a few questions, but nothing I found really fit the bill. Then I went in for my Bike Swap orientation on Saturday evening and lo and behold! The KHS Tandemania Comp from, I believe, 1995.
I’m not very familiar with the KHS brand, but I’m getting there now that I have a good reason. And as a side note, just like when you learn a new factoid and suddenly it starts to come up everywhere, I have seen so many KHS bikes around town in the last 24 hours. It’s a Taiwanese brand that makes some decent, affordable bikes. Solidly middle of the road, and reliable enough that they don’t come up for sale used as often as many more expensive brands.
This one needs a new rear seat post and a saddle to go on it, but other than a cleaning and a tune up it doesn’t seem to need much else. I’m planning to move the current saddle to the rear since I’ve ridden on an identical one before and I think my wife will like it. I’ll probably just transfer my C17 to that one whenever we’re going to go for a ride.
I’m really looking forward to working on this thing! It will all have to be done in the front yard since it can’t make it up to my attic workshop. It’s all Deore components, which ain’t too bad no matter what decade they’re from. Tandems are different in some obvious ways, and this one has an eccentric bottom bracket in the front, which I’ve seen before, but never personally experienced or dealt with. I’ll need to do some research ahead of time, which only makes it more exciting for me. But mostly I’m looking forward to riding it.
I did get a taste of it on the night I bought it. I don’t have a tandem rack for my car, and I’m not even sure my car can take one without some other support structure in place. So I ended up riding the bike home from the orientation meeting, then going back for my regular bike afterwards. The bike rode well and the brakes were more than sufficient for just my weight. It was a little weird riding on the clipless pedals with regular shoes, but I managed. And I think I have some pedal-correct shoes someplace. I shifted the rear derailleur a little bit, and it worked alright, but far from smooth. Though in the end I didn’t feel like the hearing was bad. Riding in the middle range felt like riding other bikes I’ve owned in the past. The rear end felt a little odd, but the weight and acceleration felt very familiar and natural. So that’s a plus!
I’ve got a couple things I’d like to get for this, mainly to aid in my wife’s future comfort. Fenders and a rack of some sort for starters. So I’ll have to post an update later on.